Recently in Competing With Purpose Category

Men's Basketball Q&A: Jade' Smith

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Jade' Smith is a freshman on the Pepperdine men's basketball team. He tells us what he will bring to the team, how he feels about being at Pepperdine and what he thinks about his new team:

Jade'  Smith

Q: How have your first couple months on campus been?

A: My first couple of months of school have been really nice. I am really enjoying college. The Pepperdine community is very welcoming as well with the basketball team. I love the guys. The older guys have been helping me get through classes. They have been motivating me to stay on top of schoolwork, as well as finding time to get in the gym. 

Q: How are you and the whole freshman group fitting in?

A: Colbey, Trae, and I have been able to fit in very well with the team. The team has been very welcoming, which has made it easy for us to fit right in with what Coach Wilson has going.

Q: What are you expecting to get out of this season? What are you expecting of yourself this season and in the future?

A: I'm expecting this season to be a good season because we have the talent to be a great team. As an individual this season I'm expecting to help my team in any way possible whether that's with scoring, getting a stop, and or just bringing energy. For my future my number one goal is to play professional basketball.

Q: A lot of great guards have come from Oakland and your high school. Are you trying to be next in line or live up to those expectations?

A: Of course I want to be known as one of the great guards to come out of Oakland. I definitely feel like I can be next in line. I just have to grind because I know that every player in the league was not just given anything, they worked for it all.

Q: Is there any bond between you and Amadi since you are both from the same area?

A: Amadi is my guy! That's like family to me. He's been watching me play since I was in eighth grade. I'm close to his little brother, we played on the same AAU team. But having Amadi at Pepp, and being able to play alongside him, is a great opportunity for me, because I can learn from him.

Q: Describe your game. What are your strengths and what are you looking to improve?

A: I'm a high-energy guy that can run an offense. I can get stops on the defensive end and push the ball in transition. I can facilitate the ball well and get others involved. I'm looking to improve my jump shot. I want to become consistent.

Q: What upperclassmen on the team do you look up to?

A: I look up to all the upperclassman guys because they all have more experience than I do. They all know more than I do because they've played on this level longer than I have. I have nothing but respect and take in all advice from my upperclassmen. 

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine?

A: I chose Pepperdine because I fell in love with the campus and of course the view! But the coaching staff is unbelievable. They're a group of genuine guys who want the best for you. I know I can sit down with any coach and talk about something personal outside of basketball. When I came on my visit the team was very welcoming to my family and myself and I just felt like this is best place for me for basketball and outside of basketball.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Hana Lishman

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Sophomore libero Hana Lishman talks about how she got into volleyball as well as her experience going from an attacking to a defensive position:

Hana  Lishman

Q: What are your goals now and for the rest of your career?

A: For this season, I think we just want to finish strong and right now we're definitely going up. This has been a good learning season for us. We're definitely taking those lessons and trying to improve a lot. For the next two years, I would say, just to continue with this growth of just being better and improving and helping my teammates out. Just growing in the sport mentally and physically and just being the best I can for my team and with my team.

Q: How are you feeling about the new additions to the team this year?

A: We had four incoming freshmen and they have all been great additions to the team. They fit very well with us as a whole. Not as many new people because we were a really young team last year and this year we brought back everyone, which was great, because that strong bond was already there. We had a junior transfer named Blossom Sato come in along with other freshmen and even though they were new to the team, they fit really well and everything has been really smooth.

Q: You are from Hawai'i. What would you say has been different about the transition from Hawai'i to Malibu?

A: The nicest change has been the view. Where I live in Hawaii the beach is like 30 seconds from my house but this view is just amazing. Having the beach right there has been amazing because it's just like home. It's only one flight out to get home and my coach is from Hawai'I, which is great, because we have our own inside jokes and we talk about Hawai'i a lot, which is always nice. So the transition really wasn't too bad. The people here have been really nice and kind and I love how a lot of my teammates enjoy the fact that I'm Hawaiian. They're always asking me how to say different things in Hawaiian and I really love it. In my freshman year we went to Hawai'i for one of our tournaments and everyone really embraced the culture, enjoying the food and everything, so they all made the transition really easy.

Q: Your real first name is Dallas. Why do you more commonly go by Hana?

A: Well, Hana actually comes from my middle name, Kamehanaokala, which means warmth of the sun in Hawaiian. My parents named me Dallas because my dad is a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys even though we have no connection to Dallas, Texas, whatsoever. My dad always wanted to name one of his sons Dallas. Before I was born, my parents thought I was going to be a boy and when they found out that I was a girl, my mom said she didn't want more kids so they just named me Dallas. Growing up, I've gotten used to being called Hana because nobody really called me Dallas. Sometimes people do call me Dallas and I just take a little more time to respond because I'm not used to it, but as I've gotten older I've started liking it a lot more. As for why I'm called Hana, like I mentioned, it comes from my middle name, which was really hard to pronounce so we just cut it short to Hana.

Q: You were an outside hitter in high school and now you're a libero. How have you handled the change of going from an attacking position to a defensive position?

A: In Hawai'i I'm actually considered tall, which is funny, because I don't really think I'm that tall. I've always been in an outside position for club volleyball and high school and with it comes a lot of passing like defense and serve receive so I had a lot of training with those libero skills. So the transition wasn't hard because I already had a lot of it under my belt. But the transition did put me out of my comfort zone in terms of talking on the court. I was always a silent player but in this position I have to talk a lot. I knew I needed to, but it was just hard stepping out of my shell. I still wouldn't say it's easy, but my coaches and teammates were super encouraging and they really helped push that door open so it's been great.

Q: How did you get into volleyball?

A: I started volleyball when I was 6 or 7 years old. My parents were always really into sports and they wanted me and my siblings to get into sports at a young age. They signed us up for a lot of different sports and I tried a few but I only stuck with volleyball and soccer. At one point, I actually quit volleyball and just played soccer for a bit until I started to miss playing volleyball and so I went back to playing both. After a point my parents wanted me to stick with just one because they wanted me to focus on my school and so I picked volleyball. My parents were my coaches for a while and then I moved onto club. I started off playing with my family friends so it was nice growing with people I knew and was comfortable with so we could all help each other out, learning more about the game, developing my skills and positions and things like that. It's taught me so many values, which don't just help me on the court, but off the court as well and just generally it's really helped me grow as a person.

Q: How has your transition from freshman to sophomore been?

A: Honestly, I do feel a lot more mature and confident on the court. Being a freshman on the court, there's a lot of pressure and stress and so my coaches and teammates really helped me feel confident about myself and trust myself when I'm out there. As I said before, I used to be a shy player but they really helped me crack that shell and that's why I've felt so much better this year. When I came back, I knew what I needed to do and I knew how to do it. Also after having gone through it all, I've wanted to help the freshmen coming in and give them tips and advice on how to grow. I want to be able to help them the way my teammates helped me because I understand how stressful it can be. I'd say more than my skills, my mentality switched and definitely in a good way.

Women's Swimming Q&A: Kayla Smith

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Kayla Smith, a sophomore on the Pepperdine women's swim and dive team, tells us why she chose to transfer to Pepperdine and why she feels the swim and dive team is so special:

Kayla  Smith

Q: Why did you choose to transfer to Pepperdine?

A: I chose Pepperdine because it is close to home and I really missed being at a Christian school. I also wanted to be more challenged with my education and when I visited Pepperdine in high school, I loved the atmosphere.

Q: How does your last school, Lynn University, compare to Pepperdine?

A: I had one of the most memorable and fun years of life living in South Florida and attending Lynn University. I made friends that will last a lifetime and I learned how to live on my own, being all the way across the country, but it wasn't the perfect fit for me. I wanted to look back at my college years being challenged by hard curriculum and loving swim. Due to this, I made the decision to come to Pepperdine and I love it here.

Q: How has your first semester been going?

A: My first semester at Pepperdine has been extremely challenging, I have never had so much homework, or been in a lecture hall where my professor doesn't know me. It's definitely different and challenging, but I knew what I signed myself up for when deciding to transfer. Swimming has been amazing this first semester at Pepperdine, I love the team and the coaches. I have found my passion for swimming again and love going to practice and training with my teammates who push me. The sets are challenging, but fun at the same time. The girls are always cheering for each other and staying hyped. The team atmosphere is the best I've ever experienced.

Q: How have you connected with the girls on your team so far?

A: I have connected with the girls incredibly. I feel like they are my all my sisters. Considering it is a huge team of 40 girls, I feel like I genuinely know each and every one of them and can go to them for anything! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity of training and being a part of this team.

Q: How are the coaching styles different at Lynn versus at Pepperdine?

A: At Lynn, the coaching style was distance workouts with quality, with hard race sets four times a week. Lynn was very different in the sense that we never did drills or stretching. At Pepperdine, the coaches care a lot about the team camaraderie and each and every person as an individual. School is important to the coaches here at Pepperdine and acknowledge swimming comes second. The coaches know when to push us but also balance that with when we need recovery.

Q: What are your personal goals for this season?

A: My personal goal for this season is to break a minute in the 100 butterfly and go best times in my events at conference. Although I want to swim fast, I also want to have a blast!

Q: A3 is a big meet and is coming up next week. How are you feeling about it?

A: Next week for A3 I am feeling confident and excited to suit up with a tech suit and race. It's been a while since I've suited up, since February actually. I am anxious to see what I can do with the change in training/coaching.

Q: What can we expect from the swim and dive team for the rest of the season?

A: You can expect the best results from the swim team this year. Everybody is really working hard not only in the pool, but also in the weight room. I've been hearing all the girls say how the team is better than it ever has been and we can't wait to see what we can do!

Morgan Bedford, a junior on Pepperdine's cross country and track teams, is very active here on campus. She explains the activities she is involved in and how those have impacted her:

Morgan  Bedford

Q: Where did you study abroad last year?

A: I studied abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the full academic year.

Q: How has the transition back to Pepperdine from abroad been?

A: Initially the transition was very easy. It felt very normal to be back. I was driving along PCH the very first day I arrived back in Malibu and it felt like I had never left. As the days go by, it gets a little bit easier, but there are things that pop up, like thinking about what I was doing a year ago today. Those little things make it harder, but because there was a really strong house community in Lausanne, it has been an easy transition. I run into people I studied abroad with every day, so that has really helped.

Q: What was your favorite memory from abroad?

A: A lot of my favorite memories happened with the people in the house. They were moments that were unplanned and unexpected. There was one afternoon when a friend and I had just finished lunch and we decided to go to Evian, which is a little French town across the lake. There was another moment when my friend and I were walking down to the lake and we had to pass by the train station. We thought about how crazy it was that we could just hop on a train and go to Italy and we decided right then to go to Italy. Those moments of being truly present were the best.

Q: The last time you were interviewed for this blog, you talked about your experience with Model UN. Are you still participating in that, and if so, what are you doing with it?

A: This year I am the vice president for Model UN. There are a lot of different odd jobs that I get to do. The first is supporting the president and the director of education with running and preparing for the meetings. I help with the position papers the team will have to write before conference and help prep for the resolution papers that we will write during the conference. Recently I have started Model UN Mondays with Morgan, which is a time when any of the members of the team can come by to get help or ask questions.

Q: You were recently invited to attend the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations' Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in Washington, D.C. Tell me a little about what that event was and your experience there.

A: The conference was for fellows of the Council, students, military members and for other government officials. One of my mom's colleagues invited me to attend because he knew it was something I was interested in. During the conference I learned a lot and it helped solidify future interests in working in the Middle East. It was interesting to hear all the former ambassadors, Saudi princes, diplomats and others come and speak on their experience and what students can do if the Middle East is of interest to them. It was challenging to understand all the different viewpoints because they are all very deeply rooted in tribal relations, and as things happen, the situation changes. It was also a great way to meet people and network.

Q: You also have done an internship with Senator Tim Kaine. Is working in politics something that you are interested in doing once you have graduated?

A: Very much so. From working and learning about politics I have become more interested in policy and writing the policies that are being implemented. If I could do anything, I would probably want to reestablish diplomatic ties with countries that we currently don't have ties with, such as Iran or North Korea. I think that would be really interesting because the relationships that we have with countries are really important despite our disagreements. I would love to be a part of the negotiation process and formally write the treaties to establish the diplomatic relations.

Q: What are your goals for this year's track and cross country seasons?

A: I think coming back from abroad, my goals are to be a resource to the younger members on the team. I think I have a unique position. I have never run cross country before, and a lot of them have, so they are teaching me about the sport. And, I can be a resource for them for academics, spiritual life or studying abroad. The other goal has been to continue to challenge myself and see what it is like to run cross country. So far it has been very challenging, so I have a greater respect for my teammates.

Q: How are you managing all that you do and run cross country and track?

A: I cannot do it on my own. I think that when I have tried to do all of these things on my own it is just a complete mess. Having a good support system and a strong faith and being able to be open about my struggles with balancing everything has been very helpful. Being vulnerable to the fact that I am human and I cannot do everything without my support system have helped me continue going. My team and my coaches are a huge part of my support system. My coaches have done everything they possibly can to support me on and off the track, which is really cool to see in a Division I school.

Women's Swim/Dive Q&A: Lauren Stigers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Lauren Stigers, a senior diver and breaststroker on the women's swim and dive team, tells us about how the team has grown in her time here and what she hopes for the rest of the season:

Lauren  Stigers

Q: How do you feel the season has been going so far?

A: I think the season is off to a great start! We've had two meets at home, which I've noticed helped the new girls form with our team. Our new recruits bring a lot of character and are really talented so I think it's going to be a great season!

Q: You do swimming and diving. What's it like balancing the two?

A: It's definitely a unique perspective. A lot of people just think about swimming and forget that we have divers too, so doing both is challenging but rewarding, because I've really been able to bring both the divers and the swimmers together. Swimming and diving have very different mentalities but both are really crucial to the success of the team.

Q: As a senior, how do you think the team has progressed in your time here?

A: I've seen such great improvements. First, we started off with 18 girls on the team my freshman year and we've grown to have over 35 girls now. We've also improved a lot in the weight room and received a lot of fast girls throughout my time here which have helped the team mature as a whole.

Q: Congrats on getting into Kentucky's pharmacy school. How do you feel Pepperdine has prepared you for this next step in your life?

A: Thank you! Pepperdine has done a lot for me but the biggest thing is the fact that I am an athlete. I talked a lot about being on the swim and dive team in my interviews and applications because it's really shaped the person I am today by teaching me about leadership and working well with my team.

Q: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?

A: Usually it would be to just get best times and personal bests, and although I still want to do well this season, I really just want to focus on making the most out of my time here and making memories.

Q: What can we expect from the swim and dive team during the rest of the season?

A: Definitely an improvement in our times and scores at our conference meet. We're hoping to place within the top three this year at conference as well. At our first meet of the season against San Diego State, although we didn't win, we did really well so I think the girls are really stepping up to the plate and it's exciting!

Q: What are your hopes for the team after you graduate?

A: I hope that we can hone in on getting more really good quality girls in the coming years and help all the returning girls find their specific place on the team. The team has come a really long way these past few years but I just hope we continue to improve.

Q: What has been your favorite memory with Pepperdine swimming and diving thus far?

A: I have two. The first is our meet that we have at Cal Poly every year. It's a short dual meet but we always make a good trip out of it by stopping in Morro Bay and Solvang. It's always a great time for the girls to bond. The other one is our conference meet. Every year it's really amazing to see all the girls come together and cheer for one another as we seek to achieve greatness.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Matthew Atewe

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Matthew Atewe is a graduate transfer on the men's basketball team. He talks about how his experiences playing Division I basketball have helped him take on the role of a leader at Pepperdine:

Matthew  Atewe

Q: What brought you to Pepperdine?

A: I think Pepperdine was just the best fit for me. I was able to trust the coaches and the coaching staff and I really liked the players. Apart from basketball, just having the opportunity to get a degree in one year from a school like Pepperdine was a pretty big deal for me.

Q: How has Pepperdine been different from Washington? How have you been liking it?

A: The one major difference that I've felt has been the weather. In Malibu, it's sunny every day and that's really nice. This summer, I was here for the majority of August just with the coaching staff and they put a very big emphasis on player development. The whole summer I was able to get in the gym with some of the coaching staff and other guys on the team and develop a camaraderie so we could get better as a team. I think just being around the basketball team has been amazing and I've really loved it.

Q: You have had previous experience playing college ball. How do you feel that experience has been helping you here at Pepperdine?

A: Having been in college for four years, I know how hard you need to practice. I think I can relate to the younger guys and others who are coming in who may not know how it works yet. Just having that experience allows me to be kind of like a leader in that way and help those who are struggling or aren't getting it. For the ones who are, I can just give them advice on things I did and didn't do to help them do better.

Q: How are you feeling about the team and the players this season?

A: I believe as a team we can win a lot this season. I love the excitement we have within the team and the enthusiasm as a whole. Just being successful and making it to postseason is a very big goal of ours and that's what were focused on. Just being able to win and win a lot at a high level.

Q: How has training been so far?

A: Practice has been great. It's been very competitive, which is something you always want. Also, it's been really lively and the guys who just came in have all been super enthusiastic so I've really been loving it so far.

Q: Being one of the older guys, you found yourself to be in a kind of leadership role. How has that been?

A: I think this ties in with the experience aspect but, again, having gone through a lot already has just helped me know what I can do to help the guys who are going through similar things now, including injuries and stuff like that. So basically just showing the guys coming in how to work and how to be a good basketball player and how to be deal with being a college athlete.

Q: Describe your game.

A: I'm able to rebound, score in the post and also just be an anchor defensively. Also being able to block shots and just being all over the place defensively.

Q: Are you excited about your first game?

A: As a team, we're all super excited. Our first game is November 10th against Oklahoma State. All summer and fall we've just been playing against each other so we're definitely ready to go against a different group and hopefully get our first win of the season.

Men's Water Polo Q&A: Zack Rhodes

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Zack Rhodes is a senior goalkeeper for Pepperdine's water polo team. He recently received GCC Player of the Week honors. He explains what it means to receive that and how his senior season is making him feel:

Zack  Rhodes

Q: After your huge 17-save game against Long Beach State you were named GCC Player of the Week. What does getting this honor mean to you?

A: I was happy to receive it, it means a lot to me. But I was happier with how well our team was able to work so well together and stay on top of our roles. When everyone else does their part it makes getting saves and being able to do my job much easier. Without my team I wouldn't have gotten this. It is more of a representation of the entire team's work and proves what we can do at our full potential.

Q: Leading into the GCC Tournament, you are the reigning MVP and you guys are the reigning champs. Does that put pressure or anything on you guys to perform?

A: I do feel like there are certain expectations and we are held to a little higher standard having won it last year. It does put more pressure on us, but better than that, it drives us even more to repeat. For me I go into every tournament with the mindset of playing the best that I can and do everything I can. I am not focused on outside awards like MVP, I just want to be my best and help my team win.

Q: Who would you say your biggest competition is in the GCC Tournament?

A: The University of Pacific, who did get the better of us recently. But I feel like we were making little mistakes and if we fix that we will be okay.

Q: What happens if you win the GCC Tournament?

A: If we win the tournament we are then in line to compete for the NCAA title. But our focus right now is the GCC Tournament and we have to make it through that. Then we can start planning for NCAA Tournament.

Q: Being a senior what can you take away from your four years of water polo at Pepperdine?

A: That's a tough question. I feel like I have learned so much from water polo and it has been a tremendous growing experience. I have learned so many things in the pool that can be translated into real life. The biggest lesson is probably learning how important communication is. It's a necessity to stay on top of everything and communicate since the second you lose that communication you never really know what is going to happen. Another big thing I learned is effort. That you only get out as much as you put in. So if we all put in 100 percent, even if we lose, we can feel good about ourselves knowing we gave it our all.

Q: How does water polo and school work together?

A: Water polo is a huge help with time management, especially with all my homework. It has taught me how to work better in groups and that I always need to know my role. Whether it is in the pool or in a real life situation, once I learned what my role is it has made everything a lot easier.

Q: What does breaking Pepperdine's all-time goalie saves record mean to you?

A: I am really excited that I got that. It has always been one of my goals. Being a goalie you don't get much of a shot at scoring so it was nice to have something to strive for. I really wanted to leave my mark here and I believe I have by breaking that record and now setting it as high as I can make it. That I hope will in turn motivate new freshmen and new goalies to try and break my record and give them something to push for the same way it did for me.

Q: Who has had a big impact on you during your college career and throughout your life?

A: There have been so many people that have come into my life and helped me a lot. Merrill (Moses), my coach, has been very helpful during my career here. He has helped me stay focused and worked with me even when times are rough. It really helps because he can relate to me and he has very high expectations for me, which makes me want to keep pushing everyday. But the person who has influenced me the most is definitely my mom. She has been there for my entire career and been able to push me in the right direction. I can always talk to her and she always helps me get back on track. She is my role model. I just want to try and be a good person and do everything to the best of my ability like I know my mom would. She works hard for my brother and I and she has taught me that there is a lot you can get the harder you work.

Q: What is your favorite memory from college?

A: Winning GCCs was really a great time. Having every piece come together and winning a conference championship made us all feel so accomplished. Then going home after a long hard season knowing that our hard work had paid off. Being a part of that was a phenomenal experience, I couldn't have asked for more. Hopefully we have more experiences like that this year.

Q: How are you feeling about nearing the end of your collegiate career?

A: I have a bunch of mixed feelings. I am sad that it is ending but I have had probably one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for here at Pepperdine. I loved the team and the atmosphere. As bad as it sounds I am going to miss having to wake up at 6 a.m. to get to practice. The people I have met on the team have become my closest friends and basically my brothers. The hardest part will be not seeing everyone every day and having that three-hour stress reliever in the pool all working toward the same goal. I am happy that it did happen. I have learned so much and been so fortunate to be an athlete here at Pepperdine. The discipline I have learned and the ups and downs I have been through, it has all been a great way to learn and an even better foundation for life. Water polo and all its lessons have been a very important part of my journey through Pepperdine.

Men's Golf Q&A: Clay Feagler

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Clay Feagler is a sophomore for the Pepperdine's men's golf team and last week he achieved an amazing feat, getting two holes-in-one on back-to-back days at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. He tells us about this incredible experience:

Clay  Feagler

Q: At your recent tournament you had two holes-in-one. How was that whole experience?

A: This tournament was different for us because we usually don't get to play with our teammates but this one we did get to. That added with each of my holes-in-one was amazing. Since it was my team with me everyone got hyped and started giving high-fives and dogpiling me. It still hasn't sunk in yet that I actually did that.

Q: Take me through your first hole-in-one (during Monday's first round). What did it feel like?

A: It was in the first round, the third hole of the day, a 195-yarder. My coach and I were talking about where to hit it. Then I hit the shot and it was right at the pin so I didn't know if it was going to get there or not. It hit the green, kicked left, then fed right straight into the hole. I was just like, "Whoa." I didn't know what to think but I threw my club up in the air then my teammates rushed and started high-fiving me. It was so cool.

Q: How about the second hole in one (during Tuesday's third round). Was there anything different?

A: This one was during the final round on my fourth hole of the day. I was the first one to hit on the tee so I had no idea what club to hit or how to hit it. So my coach and I decided it was best to go with a 7-iron. It was 179 yards. I hit the shot and this time it was looking really good, it felt more pure than the first one. It hit right on the green and rolled into the hole. It was cool this time because the Michigan coach and team were there so they all congratulated me along with my teammates getting hyped. It was so cool to be there with my team since we are basically brothers and to make a hole-in-one, let alone two, which is just unspeakable.

Q: How many other holes-in-one have you made?

A: I got one when I was 10, which was so long ago that the golf course I got it on doesn't even exist anymore. My dad has made three, so after I got my first one of the tournament he texted me saying, "You are still one behind me." So when I made the next one he said, "Wow, we are tied now." I've had a couple close calls but could never even imagine getting two at one tournament.

Q: How was the rest of your tournament?

A: I ended shooting 5-over-par with a 76 (in the first round), which isn't great. Through the rest of the round I was still a little caught off-guard after making a hole-in-one since I was still shocked. It almost made it harder to keep playing since I had all this energy and my heart was still racing from sinking it that stayed with me through the rest of that round. The second round I shot a 67 and I felt like I bounced back. Then in the final round I had experience on the course from the other rounds so I knew how to play it but the conditions were pretty poor. But I did end up making the other hole-in-one that day so that was really cool.

Q: What were the practices like leading up to this? Was there anything special?

A: It was a just some pretty regular practices leading up. It was just the normal hitting with certain clubs and hitting different flights. We prepared ourselves for what can happen in a competitive atmosphere.

Q: Overall how would you say the tournament went for your team?

A: We finished sixth. We haven't really been playing up to what we usually play to. But last year was pretty similar and we ended up finding it in the spring and making it to the NCAA Championships, which I hope happens again, and I feel like it's going to. This was really a fun week for our whole team, especially me, since for all that to happen was unreal and the addition of being with my team was great.

Q: What's it like with Pepperdine's coaches and your teammates now that it's your second year?

A: It has been great. Last year I didn't know everyone at the start but this year I am good friends with all the guys, which makes the whole experience more enjoyable. Our coach is a great guy. He helps us with everything, even with school. I feel we have a really good group of guys because we can talk to each other about anything and that they genuinely care about how you are doing.

Q: Last year you achieved All-WCC first team honors. Do you have goals for like that for this year?

A: If I were to answer that a month or two ago I would say my goal is to be player of the year. But now I am just trying to improve my game and get better every day. It would be definitely be cool to be first team again but I am not focusing on that. That would just be an added bonus to me improving my game.

Q: How would you say you adjusted from the high school golf scene to college?

A: In high school you are only playing one team while in college we are playing 15 different teams at once. It is much more team-oriented versus high school. Now I have realized just how much each shot I take counts for my team. But I definitely adjusted better this year and now know more of what to do on the course and how to prevent bad scores. After I learned how to cope with school and golf everything has been much better.

Women's Soccer Q&A: Emily Tanaka

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Emily Tanaka, a senior on the women's soccer team, tells us about how she's grown as a person through her time at Pepperdine and what Pepperdine and this team have meant to her:

Emily  Tanaka

Q: How did you get into playing soccer?

A: I started playing AYSO soccer when I was 5 in Hawai'i. Just kids kicking the ball around and I never really stopped! I thought I might try other sports but soccer just stuck with me.

Q: Being from Hawai'i, how did you choose to come to California and play for Pepperdine?

A: There was an older girl on the team before me from Hawai'i who was a senior when I was a freshman. She was someone that I really looked up to when we played club together. When Coach Tim (Ward) approached me about coming to play at Pepperdine and I saw the school and met the team, I knew I wanted to come here. However, a lot of it stemmed from the influence my old teammate, Ally Holtz.

Q: Being a senior this year, how has your role on the team shifted?

A: I've definitely taken on more of a role model and leader role this year. I may not play the most minutes out of my class, who are all very talented, but I've taken on a role as supporter, encourager and hard worker. For me it was a struggle to transition into that role but it's been very rewarding.

Q: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?

A: I want us to win the WCC and with the incredible team we have now I think that we have the opportunity to possibly win the national championship. I don't want us to settle for anything less than what we are capable of.

Q: What are you looking forward to as the season ends?

A: I'm looking forward to possibly winning the WCC championship at home. Last year we won it at Pacific, which was great. But, winning it at home this year would be amazing. Also going to the NCAAs would be great.

Q: How has Pepperdine soccer shaped the person that you are today?

A: I've definitely changed a lot. I used to just go through the motions and do what was comfortable to me, but now I have higher goals and expectations for myself. That's the biggest thing that I think has changed for me. Also, how I interact with people around me, I no longer think just about myself because I have a team of 30 girls to look after.

Q: What would you say to soccer recruits interested in Pepperdine?

A: Definitely consider coming here! On the surface, Pepperdine is a great program and very competitive, but there's so much more. There are people here who care about you, who want to see you succeed and who will watch out for you.

Q: What are your plans post-graduation?

A: I want to take a year off to work abroad or get other new experiences. Then I'm going to apply to law school.

Q: What has been your favorite memory with Pepperdine soccer?

A: Singing "We Are the Champions" on the bus ride back from Pacific last year!

Cross Country Q&A: Nick Heath

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Nick Heath, the top runner on the men's cross country team, won the Highlander Invitational recently. He talks about his experience at the meet as well as his expectations for the WCC Championships coming up this Friday.

Nick  Heath

Q: How did you get into running?

A: I wasn't always into running. I actually just joined because some of my friends were joining the cross country team in our freshman year. I had never played a sport before and I'm not an extremely coordinated person so cross country seemed like something I could do. I wasn't very good at first but I liked it so I stuck with it. At first, I was really slow but with time I realized that I could be good at it if I just put in the work. So I did and by my sophomore year, I was the second-fastest guy on the team. Since then, it's been an amazing experience and I'm really glad I joined it.

Q: You have a really impressive record in cross country and track. What have been your proudest achievements?

A: I'd say one of my proudest moments in high school was when my cross country team qualified for the state meet for the first time in my school's history. The next year, we placed fifth and then in my senior year, we placed third. That progression was so satisfying and I was really proud of what my teammates and I did. As for college, at the end of last season, my race at the NCAA West Regional was probably the best race I've ever run.

Q: What has been different for you this year as compared to last year?

A: Personally, I had kind of a rough last track season. I got a serious hip injury and had to take about a month off. Coming back from that has definitely made me look at running differently and be a little more careful with myself. It has also made me value each day I'm here and able to do what I do. So much more than before my injury, and so coming into this season I won't take anything for granted.

As a team, it's been so great to have all the new freshmen who run alongside me every day and push me in our workouts and seeing them in races. I think they've been doing great things for the team.

Q: You won the Highlander Invitational last weekend. Can you talk about your experience at the invitational?

A: It was really fun. My coach showed me the results from last year before we raced and I was looking at some of the guys and I felt I could stick with the front pack because it seemed like a decent race. So I went out and I didn't take the lead immediately. I got off to a fairly normal start and worked my way up during the first mile. Once we got to the first-mile marker, I was up with the front runners and then from there, over the next mile, more and more people started dropping off the pack until eventually it was just me and one other guy, who I think was from Irvine. We ran side by side for the next mile and a half or so and we got to a point where there were about 600 meters left. That's when I broke away and I think he knew he couldn't keep on and so he just dropped off and I won.

Q: How did it feel to win at that meet?

A: It felt awesome. Honestly, it's just such a great feeling when you break away and take the lead. You get such a huge second wind and you just get this burst of inspiration and strength.

Q: Your next race is the WCC Championships. What are you hoping to achieve there and how are you feeling about it?

A: I've been looking forward to the WCCs for a while. We've got some really fast schools in our conference like Portland and BYU. I think last year I was kind of at the back of the pack of those two schools but I'm hoping this year I'll be able to beat some of their better runners and hopefully get into the top 10. And I'm also hoping to make a personal record. It's a new course and I haven't seen it before but it should be fun and I'm looking forward to it. Also, as a team, we've got a lot of new freshmen in and we're going to have a really good opportunity to do a lot better than we did last year. I don't know how it's going to turn out but I'm really hopeful about how we'll do.  

Q: What do you do before a meet to reduce pre-race anxiety?

A: For me, it's all about consistency. I like to treat every race as if it's a part of my normal routine. I get to bed early and wake up at my normal time and warm up with my team the way I normally would and finally when I'm at the starting line, I switch into race mode and get my game face on.

Q: What advice would you give to beginning athletes/runners?

A: My advice would be to stay patient and stick with it. Cross country is not something in which you'll see a huge transformation overnight. It's really just putting in the work every day to get better, step by step. As long as you keep focused and stay determined and take care of yourself, the difference between your first race and last race will be so incredibly huge and you will definitely go far.

Q: What have you learned in your years of training?

A: Mainly, I've learned the importance of being patient with myself. I've seen a lot of runners get stressed out and put too much pressure on themselves that they need to perform right here and right now at a race. I'm just grateful to be there and take the opportunity to do what I can and if it goes well then great, and if not, there's nothing I can do about it. I've also learned not to get carried away in training either. You've got to just run within your limits. Keep pushing yourself to expand those limits but remember that one day isn't going to make or break your career and so, just be patient.

Cross Country Q&A: Kyle Johnson

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Kyle Johnson, a freshman on Pepperdine's cross country team, shares his feelings about his first year on the team ahead of this week's WCC Championships. He also shows off his excitement toward the upcoming track season:

Kyle  Johnson

Q: How was your most recent meet?

A: UCR was a good tune-up meet right before WCCs. It was a change of pace from the normal 8K as we went down to 6K, which was nice to get the legs moving a bit faster.

Q: How have your first couple months been running at Pepperdine?

A: My first couple months have been great. I have been feeling very strong in and outside of the classroom. I really think I have found a nice home here. Also, running makes time fly by, plus getting eight hours of sleep really takes up a lot of my time.

Q: How is it running for Coach Radnoti?

A: Running for Coach Radnoti is interesting, he always keeps us honest with how we are feeling, as he is a very strong believer in the mind. That being said, he's always fun-loving and makes sure everyone is in a good mood.

Q: How has your progression been throughout this year?

A: My progression through this year has been odd as my fastest race has been my first one, which is not ideal, but at WCCs I know I will be faster. I believe in myself more than anyone else ever could so I am not too worried.

Q: What are your expectations for your four years?

A: Four years is a long time so I am not going to put any specific goals but I believe the sky is the limit, especially with Coach Radnoti's system and my work ethic. I know anything can happen.

Q: How is it adjusting from high school cross country to college?

A: In high school my workouts and mileage were not even close to this hard or long, so jumping up to college mileage was a big step for me. Not to say it was a bad thing, as I feel faster than I ever have been in my entire life.

Q: How is it being on a team with completely new people?

A: My teammates are incredible, each one bringing their own interesting personality traits and experiences to the table, making us a very well-rounded team. They really help me out because when you are as far away from home as some of the guys like me are, having that close family atmosphere definitely helps.

Q: What are your feelings toward track season? What events do you run?

A: I am excited for track! My events are going to be the 5K and 10K. This whole year my mileage has been lower than everyone. I have been beating people in races so by track I hope to catch up closer to 90 a week and make a big jump in my performances.

Q: Since you are from Michigan, why did you choose Pepperdine?

A: I chose Pepperdine because of the people here. It feels like the family and team atmosphere that I had back home, which I know will allow me to flourish out here and also because of Coach Radnoti.

Q: How does cross country work with your major (computer science/math)?

A: Cross country works well with my major. I would not say it is the hardest major on campus, but it definitely kicks my butt sometimes. Really, as long as I stay on top of everything and manage my time well, I know I can achieve anything.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Trae Berhow

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Trae Berhow, a freshman guard on the men's basketball team, talks about his transition from living in a small town in Minnesota to studying in Malibu, as well as his goals for the season:

Trae  Berhow

Q: You're from Minnesota. How has the transition been so far?

A: The weather has definitely been a huge change. Though the summer in Minnesota is pretty hot because of the humidity, it's still been so different. The biggest change for me has been the ocean because in Minnesota all we have is the lakes. It has been nice to get to go to the beach here because everyone is always tanning or chilling on the beach or surfing, which is one thing I definitely want to learn how to do while I'm here. In Minnesota, we go on the lake in boats or go knee boarding which is kind of like surfing but it's also a lot different because you're in the middle of the lake instead of on the beach.

Q: How have you been liking Pepperdine so far?

A: I really love it. Everything here is a lot closer in terms of stores and restaurants because my hometown was pretty small and the only place to get food near me was Subway. Also, I've really liked being on a college campus where I can get food or use the gym whenever I want so it's definitely a lot nicer and it's been great so far.

Q: As a freshman, how has the first month been, in terms of basketball?

A: It's a big change coming in from high school because the workload is a lot more. Before this semester we had summer sessions and so I knew what to expect in terms of the athletics, which definitely helped a lot. I would have to say the biggest change for me was lifting because, in my high school, lifting wasn't as mandatory, which is different from Pepperdine where lifting is really important and as an athlete here if you don't lift, you don't become stronger or a better player. So that was definitely a huge change for me in terms of sports here.

Q: How have you been coping with juggling sports and college academics so far?

A: Academics here have been a huge change for me because, obviously, Pepperdine is one of the higher academic colleges. For the student-athletes we have something called study table which is a mandatory study hall for eight hours in the week where we have to use that time to finish our homework. So that helps a lot because it makes sure we aren't behind on any of our assignments. We even have tutors for our classes, who are really great. I have a couple of tutors and I think even if you feel you're doing okay with your studies you should go to a tutor anyway just to get their perspective on things and that helps a lot.

Q: What do you think of the team so far?

A: I think the team is going to be really good this year. I think the one big thing is that we're going to have to stay healthy. We're going to have a young team based around Amadi (Udenyi), who's one of our main leaders and Kevin (Hempy), both of whom are seniors, and we also have Matt (Atewe), our graduate transfer. So we have some older people to base it around, who have some good experience and can teach some of the young guys, which is going to help a lot. Overall we're going to be a young team but I really think we're going to surprise some people after the year we had last year.

Q: How would you describe the coaching style?

A: At Pepperdine they really preach defense and even my saying is, "Defense wins games," so in that sense we're definitely going to be an up-tempo team. But obviously, we'll slow it down when we have to. There's a lot of competition in practices, which helps because it obviously makes everyone want to work harder and we get better because of it.

Q: What goals have you set for yourself this season?

A: Starting off one of my goals is to be one of the bigger threats on defense and to be guarding one of the best players on the opposing team. Our goals as a team would be to be one of the top three in our conference and hopefully beat Gonzaga because that would be big. I really think we can do it if we make a push in the tournament and play the way we should play.

Q: Are you excited for your first college game coming up next month?

A: I'm so excited. We're going over to play Oklahoma State so the crowd is going to be packed and I think it's going to be their first game too. It's a good team to play and if we can beat them, everyone's eyes are going to open right away so it's going to be a big game for us.

Q: In your bio, you'd said, "A ball can pay for anything if you work for it." Would you like to elaborate on that?

A: I think in basketball if you work hard then it can pay for the rest of your life. Going to the NBA or overseas can be your job and my main goal is to have a good life, doing something I love every day while making money off of it. The ball can do that for people and I think that's amazing.

Charles Olsen, a fifth-year senior on the Pepperdine men's water polo team, has a lot of insight from his time here at Pepperdine. He shares with us his goals for the rest of the season and his plans for the future:

Charles  Olsen

Q: How has the season been going so far?

A: The season has been good. We started off pretty strong, but we were not playing the hardest teams. We were 9-0 to begin with. Then we started playing some really good teams. Our first hard game was against Cal and we played really well, and we only lost by a couple of goals. That was the first time we realized that we could do really well this season. We had more games where we only lost by one or so goals. I feel like we are there, we just need to figure out flow out a little more and play better from the beginning.

Q: How is the team preparing in order to repeat being GCC Tournament champions and trying to get to the NCAA Championships?

A: Our coaches have really emphasized the details. In practice, we would sometimes have 15 minutes to warm up on our own. We would not take advantage of that and just mess around. So our coaches have taken a stronger hold on how we are warming up and how we carry ourselves on and off the pool deck. They want us to focus on the times where it would be easier to just chill and relax, but instead use them to focus on opportunities that we are missing to improve our game.

Q: What are your personal goals for the season?

A: My personal goal is to be the best I can be. It is my last year, so I want to be remembered as someone who had grit and did not fold when we got down. I want to really believe we can win when we play a good team and do my best under a lot of pressure.

Q: What do you think your role on the team is?

A: I am not a starter, but I am usually first or second off the bench. My job is to go in for our captain Mark Urban, and play as hard as I can against his defender and swim his defender up and down the pool, bug him as much as I can, so that when Mark comes back in, his defender is too tired and Mark can get past him easily. I do score every now and then, but my main role is to go in and make Mark's job easier.

Q: What is it like being a fifth-year senior?

A: It is crazy. This morning at weights, this old song came on when we were lifting and it reminded me of the first month I was at Pepperdine lifting in the same gym. I looked at the freshmen, and thought about how quickly these years go by. It is about to be over, but it has been fun.

Q: What would you tell your freshman self, knowing all that you know now?

A: I would for sure tell myself to do better in school and to be smarter about who you confide in and trust. When I was a freshman, I hung out with whoever I met first. Those people were people who were not making the best choices, and I saw myself doing the same thing they were doing. I think it is important to take a long-term approach. You are going to have your fun in college, and there is no specific thing you have to do in order to have fun. I would tell myself to branch out more from the beginning.

Q: Do you have any post-grad plans?

A: I have a few. I want to be an FBI agent, but I have to have three years of professional experience before I can even apply. I need to go out and do something really well and then I can apply. I am thinking about getting an MBA or starting my own company.

Q: What made you want to be an FBI agent?

A: Both of my parents were FBI agents. My mom recently retired and when she was giving her retirement speech she noted how she got to have such an impact on the world and as a mother her job is to keep her son safe. She really felt that as she was doing her job, she was making the world a better place for me. I think it is really cool to have such a direct impact. I feel like both of my parents have really kept me safe.

Q: Looking back over the past years, what has been your favorite memory?

A: I feel like people want to say when we won the GCC Tournament, but it wasn't that for me at all. I actually did not play in that game. I did not play well the whole tournament and I understand why the coaches didn't play me and I honestly did not trust myself to play. That moment was really cool, but the best moments for me were more like the bus ride up to the tournament. We had dinner together and we would all stack up our phones in the middle and talk to one another. It was the little things that might not be the most fun in the moment, but those are the best moments to look back on. Winning is great, but what stands out more is the journey and they guys you become men with.

Q: Is there anything you want to do before leaving Pepperdine that you have not gotten to do yet?

A: If we could make it to the NCAA Tournament and give it our best that would be great. I think that is definitely feasible for us. In general, I want to meet as many people as I can before I am done. In the future I am not going to have this many cool and smart people around me all the time. It is so cool to make connections with other students and teachers here at Pepperdine.

Blossom Sato transferred to Pepperdine this year to play on the women's volleyball team. The Waves' setter shares what her transition to Pepperdine has been like and what she hopes to do on and off the court:
Blossom  Sato

Q: How has your transition from Mississippi State to Pepperdine been?

A: It has been super awesome. I actually grew up here, so I am super excited to be back and to be a student here. I've known our coach, Scott (Wong), for a really long time through family. Scott and all the other coaches have been really supportive and the girls have been great too.

Q: What is the major difference between Starkville and Malibu?

A: Other than the view, I would say the size of the school and the environment. Starkville is super focused on football, basketball and baseball. At Pepperdine, academics are the focus, but the school still supports the athletes. It is a really good balance.

Q: What made you decided to come back to Southern California?

A: Things were not working out in Mississippi with volleyball and I was really homesick and unhappy. I contacted coaches throughout Southern California and Pepperdine wanted me to play for them, and I was excited to play for Pepperdine.

Q: Were you expecting to come in and play right away?

A: I was not expecting anything at all. I knew that they had two setters already. I had seen them play and knew that they were good. I was just excited to be competing again and getting better for myself and to help the team as much as I could.

Q: What are your goals at Pepperdine?

A: I really want to help the team win conference. I know there's a lot of competition, so it would be super huge if we could win conference and make it to the NCAA Tournament. That would be such a great year. I only have two years left, so I am trying to help make that happen.

Q: What do you think your role is on the team? Or what do you hope it will be?

A: Being new was hard because I had to try and learn how my teammates acted and their personalities. I want to be a leader and I want to be a person who anyone can depend on both on and off the court with any problems they may have. I think that is going pretty well so far. We have a lot of leaders on the team, so everyone feels comfortable going to everyone. It is really awesome because I have never been on a team like that before.

Q: Volleyball seems to run in your family. How has your mom and uncles' successful careers influenced you?

A: All I did growing up was be around volleyball. I did not start playing competitively until ninth grade. I have two older cousins who also play, so we were always close and grew up playing volleyball together. Everybody always thought that we had to play volleyball because our family played, but we really didn't. We just enjoyed it so much that we wanted to play. I got to play against my cousin this past preseason, and it was really fun because I had never played against her before.

Q: Do you have any bucket list items to do while you are in Malibu?

A: I want to go on more hikes. I don't get to go on them very often, but I really want to hike more. I know there is a swing along the coast under one of the houses, so I want to find those.

Women's Swimming Q&A: Abby Crawford

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Abby Crawford, a senior at Pepperdine, goes into detail about her excitement for the future of Pepperdine's swim team. She tells us her hopes for her team and her last year as a Wave ahead of this Friday and Saturday's Malibu Invitational at Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool:

Abby  Crawford

Q: How did you feel about your first meet against San Diego State? For the team and for yourself?

A: It went very well actually; we have a lot of really fast freshmen this year. Our relays did really well along with some individual events. Overall, I would say we have definitely improved as a team. As for me, I'd say I did pretty good, posted some good times. But with it being the first meet of the season it's hard to gauge exactly how everyone is.

Q: What are your more main events?

A: I have a wide range through a lot of events but this year I am going to do the 100 IM and continue doing the 100 free and backstroke.

Q: The Malibu Invitational is coming up. Are you exciting to compete in that?

A: Yeah, that is definitely a fun meet because we all have to swim a distance event, mid-distance event and a sprint event. A lot of teams come so there's a lot of competition and it's also fun because the alumni from previous years will come and swim, which is always fun to see.

Q: Who is your biggest rival/most competitive meets against?

A: LMU is probably our biggest rival since we are always competing against them and we have a very similar level of competition.

Q: What has being at Pepperdine and swimming for four years meant to you?

A: It has meant everything to me. It has changed my whole life. It was weird moving across the country to this new place my freshman year but quickly Pepperdine became like another home to me, especially with my team, since it felt like I had an immediate family. I have grown so much these past four years with my teammates and it has been an amazing time.

Q: How do you think the increased size of the recruiting class is helping the swim program?

A: We are definitely expanding, which is really great for the program. We have around 40 girls this year. It's really good because it gets our program out there since after we almost lost our program a few years ago we have been rebuilding. With the increased size it has helped our program grow and become a lot faster.

Q: How do you see the freshmen this year fitting in?

A: I think the team dynamic has helped this class fit in really well and more easily also since all of them are very sociable and great teammates.

Q: What are your team goals? Personal goals?

A: For the team I think everyone would say that we want to place top three at conference, along with growing as a team and becoming closer as a unit. While for personal goals, I just want to swim faster, it doesn't matter what event. As long as I drop time I will be happy and proud of myself.

Q: What does being a Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete mean to you?

A: I have tried really hard to focus on my school before swim, they kind of walk hand in hand since swim gives me the discipline to get my homework done because of morning practices. Even as a major in sports medicine it has been a good balance between sports and school.

Q: What is your favorite swim team memory?

A: There are honestly too many to pick just one. So I would have to say all the friends I have made, especially the girls on my team. We have grown so much together, a lot due to the fact that we want to enjoy ourselves and have fun. We swim a ton but we also make sure no one is getting burned out with it and overall make sure everyone is having fun.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Sydney Bordonaro

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Sydney Bordonaro, a redshirt sophomore on the women's basketball team, talks about the positive changes she's seen in the team, the expectations she has for their performance and her individual goals in the upcoming season:

Sydney  Bordonaro

Q: How are you feeling about the upcoming season?

A: I'm really excited, we've got a really great group of people. A lot of freshmen, a lot of transfers, most of them fifth-year seniors. Especially with Coach DeLisha (Milton-Jones), I'm excited for the season. I think it's going to be a complete turnaround from what we've seen the past few years.

Q: Speaking of Coach DeLisha, how has it been with her as the new head coach?

A: It's been completely different, she allows us to be ourselves, and it allows people to play more freely. We're less stressed, and we're playing like ourselves and to the best of our ability. I think that's going to be what makes a difference.

Q: How has the integration of the new players with the veteran players been?

A: It's been completely smooth, a lot of the fifth-year seniors came this summer, and then we got a couple of players from Australia. But it's a perfect blend, we're already like a family already. It's crazy how quickly we all came together.

Q: What do you expect out of yourself this season?

A: Personally, I came off my third shoulder surgery, so I didn't get as much work in as I planned to. But I want to build on the type of player that I am, I was known to be a shooter last year and I want to continue to be a great shooter and a consistent shooter. I want to build on my game as well as be a great teammate and a great leader.

Q: What are some of the goals you have for the team this season?

A: I think, honestly, a realistic goal is to be in the top three or four in our conference. To come out of preseason with a great record, and get some momentum coming into conference play. I think we can compete with the best, the Gonzagas and teams like that, I think we really have the talent to do that.

Q: How has playing for Pepperdine encouraged your growth personally and as an athlete?

A: Since playing here I've had to overcome a lot, I've had three surgeries, I had a redshirt year, I haven't played the way I wanted to play, I've had a lot of personal issues. Being at Pepperdine helped me to lean on my faith more, and it helped me grow in my faith, because when you're in high school and everything is great all the time and then you come to college and you have to face these challenges, it's made me grow in my faith and strengthen it.

Q: What has been your favorite experience as a Pepperdine student-athlete thus far?

A: Last year, when we upset Gonzaga the first game of conference. They're the "big dog" in the conference, and we were picked ninth or 10th in the conference, and out the gate we beat them by a good 10, 12 points and that was great. We turned a lot of heads with that game, and it was great because we showed everyone that we had that potential.

Q: Is there any one thing that you're particularly excited for this season?

A: The game against Pacific is always a big one for us. And then obviously the game against Gonzaga, they're usually the best team in our conference, and their record and their history everyone knows, so it's always a big game when we go play them.

Q: What does "Competing with Purpose" mean to you?

A: It means every single day when you go out and you're grinding, you're in practice, you're in a game, there has to be a reason why you're doing it. For me, it's love. I love the game of basketball, more than I love anything on this earth. But everyone has a different reason why they're competing, maybe for their family or faith or whatever the case may be. There has to be a reason why you're out here working hard and out here every single day.

Women's Soccer Q&A: Danielle Thomas

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Danielle Thomas, a junior defender on the women's soccer team, talks about the progress that she and her team have made thus far and what to expect going forward:

Danielle  Thomas

Q: Being from Huntington Beach, Pepperdine isn't too far from home. How did you make the decision to stay close by at Pepperdine?

A: I wanted to stay close to home. I looked at schools across the country but I knew I would get homesick. Also, once I visited, I loved the small class sizes, the professors who care and the campus.

Q: When you were a freshman, how did it feel to be a starter?

A: It was a lot of pressure but I was excited to get on the field and have a lot of playing time.

Q: How have you improved in soccer since your freshman year?

A: I am more knowledgeable about the game. When I was a freshman I would sometimes do things without thinking. I have gotten a lot better about reading plays and reacting to situations.

Q: Can you give us some insight into how you prepare before a game?

A: I just try to stay calm. I don't like to wake up early and do a lot of things beforehand. When I get to the locker room the girls give me some energy but overall I like to stay calm.

Q: How important is it for a team to have a solid defense?

A: It's really important. My coach always says, "Defense wins championships," and I agree. If you don't let in a goal, then you can't lose. It's also not just the back line, it's a full team defense which starts with the forwards.

Q: Your team is one of the best in the nation at defense. What do you do well or differently than other teams?

A: We connect with each other really well. I never have to worry about someone doing the wrong thing. Our experiences together have helped me to understand what they're going to do and not to worry that my teammates won't do their part.

Q: What are your personal goals for the season?

A: I want to have a shutout, that's my goal as a defender. I also want to make it further in the NCAA than we did last year, when we made it to the Sweet 16.

Q: How is the team feeling about the season after last year's conference win and the NCAA Tournament?

A: We lost a lot of really good people but I think we have a really good chance of making it really far this year. We have some amazing girls on our team this year and we all connect well together.

Q: Do you have any plans to play professional soccer?

A: No. I know what I want to be, which is a nurse. As much as I love soccer, I don't think that I would want to play it after college.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Elijah Lee

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Sophomore guard Elijah Lee of the men's basketball team played for a homeschool program called HCYA in Houston. He talks about his experience, as well as his transition into college basketball, and how he's looking to improve in his second season:

Elijah  Lee

Q: I understand you were homeschooled in Houston. How did it help your athletic career?

A: I got pulled out in the fifth grade before I went to middle school for academic reasons. Then I discovered a homeschool program called HCYA, which was the Homeschool Christian Youth Association and I fell in love with it. If it wasn't for this program I probably would've gone to public high school. Initially I was skeptical about the number of opportunities I would have in homeschool basketball, but surprisingly, there was a lot of talent in the program that I was in. We even got to travel a lot and play some pretty good teams so I think the exposure I got being a part of that team was amazing.

Q: Why did you choose to come to Pepperdine?

A: I think Coach Amaral discovered me first at a tournament in Dallas and then got the rest of the staff's attention. Finally Coach Wilson ended up recruiting me at a tournament in Las Vegas. I was approached by other schools but I'd have to say Pepperdine was the best and I was most excited about this offer. I knew a little bit about the school from before and I'd always heard good things about it but I didn't really know enough until after Coach offered me. That's when I started doing my research and when I did, I was pretty excited about it, so I think coming here was definitely high up on my list.

Q: How has your experience being a student-athlete at Pepperdine been so far?

A: It's been really great. Last year we didn't have the best season. But personally I wouldn't trade it for the world just because of how I've grown as an individual. I think I learned a lot from last year and I even think it'll help me a lot coming into this new year because I think now I'll feel more comfortable. This is just speaking in terms of athletics.

In terms of academics, I couldn't have asked for anything better, being a student-athlete. I love how small the classrooms are here because I get to have a personal relationship with all my professors and being that there's about 3,500 undergraduates here, you can develop close relationships with the students around here pretty easily. And last season, the older guys did a good job of accepting me and the rest of the freshmen and making us feel welcome so I've really loved it here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Q: Are you excited for this season? How is the team coming together with so many new players?

A: I am amped for this season. The new freshmen are super enthusiastic and energetic. I feel the same way. We have returning sophomores and we have some great experience with Amadi (Udenyi) and Matthew Atewe, who's a transfer. We also have some players who are older so I think we've got a great mixture of young guys and old guys. We all have a great bond off the court right now and I feel that'll carry over onto the court. We've also got some great talent this year so I'm really looking forward to it.

The guys coming in do have some stuff to figure out in terms of terminology and other things of that nature, but they are picking it up pretty quickly. I think once they get adjusted to all of those little things and just in general, once we get used to playing with each other, we'll flow a lot better as a team. But I'm not worried, I think it'll come maybe after a few weeks of practice when we'll get a better idea of that.

Q: How has the training been going so far?

A: So our coach has always had a winning mentality but this summer was even more so. This summer had a kind of competitive theme. Basically what that meant was that everything we did was something we were competing in, whether it was in the weight room or in the gym. We were competing against each other but just trying to make each other better in that regard. Outside of training we got into our first official practice on (Sept. 30) and they said that that was one of the best practices they've had since they've been here together as a staff and they were pretty excited about that and so were we. We know some things need fixing but that'll come with time. So I'm not worried and I think the positives that've been shown so far are definitely some things to be excited about.

Q: Your first game is in a month, how are you feeling about it?

A: Our first game is on November 10th and the whole team is just counting down days and we just can't wait. I think it's going to be an exciting game. We're going to be going to Oklahoma State, which is a pretty good team, so we're all really looking forward to it.

Q: Are you excited about Blue & Orange Madness this year and how was your experience last year?

A: I am super excited. I can't wait for Blue and Orange and to get a chance to see all the new students that are going to come out, hopefully. We want to get more fans in the stands this year and we're hoping to make a good impression on them as a team so it's definitely a really fun time of the year. As a freshman, it was really exciting because I'd never had the chance to play a college game before and even though it wasn't exactly a college game, it was just a chance to get my feet wet and get an idea of what it would be like to be a college athlete. So I'm looking forward to it this year and I'm looking forward to reliving the experience through the new freshmen.

Q: What kind of improvement do you expect to make going from your freshman to sophomore year?

A: I think maturity is a big deal. Coming in as a freshman, I had a few things thrown at me that I wasn't exactly expecting. Stress and school did play a part in it. Coach Wilson and the rest of the staff did a good job in understanding that the transition from high school to college was a weight on my shoulders. Being able to handle all the academics at Pepperdine wasn't easy because it is not a school to be taken lightly. But just finding the balance of when to get in the gym and when to study as well as how to study was something that I had to learn and I wish I would've handled it better. That being said, I'm glad that I went through it because it exposed me to some weaknesses in my game. So basically I want to learn from those mistakes from last year and improve on how to think in the game instead of just reacting.

Q: Being from Houston, how are you dealing with the hurricane that recently hit the city?

A: Initially I had my flight to L.A. scheduled on the 26th, if I've got the date correctly. Then I had to reschedule it because the storm was hitting earlier than expected, and so, if I remember correctly, I flew out on the 25th instead. Basically, I made it out right in time because it had started storming and later that day, I found out that a lot of the flights were getting cancelled and weren't flying for about a week, so I got lucky. Coming out here and being away from Houston when all of that was going on was kind of disturbing because it is my city and I have all my family and friends there. Coach Wilson and the staff were making sure that I was checking up on them and they were helping me a lot, which was greatly appreciated. Luckily, my immediate family wasn't affected. A few of my cousins were affected by it but fortunately they all handled it well and I kept them all in my prayers and it's all okay now.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Knox Hellums

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Sophomore guard Knox Hellums of the men's basketball team is excited to have started practicing. He tells us how he feels about himself as a player and how the team is mixing together with so many new faces:

Knox  Hellums

Q: With practice just starting, how has it been beginning this new season?

A: Practice has been great so far. I could even recognize myself that our first practice was already one of the best practices. Even coach said it was one of the best first practices Pepperdine has had in a long time.

Q: How are the incoming freshmen fitting in and mixing with the team?

A: Perfectly. Everyone has been working hard and it felt like we gelled very well together. Having the whole team together over the summer was huge since now we know each other's personalities. Our main focus right now is getting our chemistry down even though it feels to me like our chemistry is way ahead of schedule. As the season moves along, I think the freshmen are going to continue to fit in even better.

Q: While the first game against Oklahoma State isn't for a month, what are your first takes?

A: I'm just excited to play them since being from Houston, Texas, a lot of my friends and family from back home are going to be there to watch me play. They are a Big 12 team and they are going to be a big challenge for us but I am sure we will be ready for it.

Q: Blue and Orange Madness is coming up, what do you think about that?

A: I can't wait for that! It's always cool to get in front of the whole school and see everybody and kick off basketball season the right way.

Q: What are some differences in yourself between your freshman year and this year?

A: I feel so much more comfortable and confident, basically I feel like a veteran. I am much better at defensive reads and I know the playbook like the back of my hand. Honestly, I'm just excited to get back to playing.

Q: What parts of your game have you been improving over summer and hope to better in practice?

A: The best part of my game especially from last year was shooting. So I have been trying to shape many other parts of my game, like finishing at the rim and in the paint. Working on ball handling and being able to not only create for myself but also create for others. Finally, I have been working on defense so if someone is quicker than me I'll be one step ahead mentally so I can get the stop. Our coaches said G.I.D. -- get it done -- which has been in my mind a lot throughout the summer while I was working on that.

Q: Being your second year do you feel like you know what the coaches want from you?

A: Yeah, my relationship with them is great. I know exactly what they want out of me and I am willing to give it all for them.

Q: What are some goals for yourself and the team?

A: My goal for our team is to win the WCC championship and go to the NCAA Tournament. That's always been a dream of mine to win a conference championship with my team. Especially now since I'm more connected with the guys, I feel like they are my brothers. I know how bad we all want it. We have been putting in the hours of hard work with 5 a.m. conditioning and summer workouts. I'd like to keep up my shooting percentage and hopefully lead the conference in that but I'm more of a team guy so my focus is to help us win games.

Q: What does being a Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete mean to you?

A: My academics are important to me. I kept a really solid GPA last year by staying focused in school and being behind the books a lot.

Women's Swim/Dive Update: Julianna Chan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

On the eve of the first meet of the season, junior swimmer and Athletic Communications intern Julianna Chan contributes this inside look at the first month of the school year and the start of the swim season:

Julianna  Chan

In years past, we've eased our way into practices at the beginning of the school year. This year was not like that. As soon as everyone finished their back-to-school physicals, we jumped right into double-days and weight training. It was an intense first couple of weeks, as most of us struggled to get back into tip-top shape, but every year our team is getting bigger and better, and our training routines reflect that.

I have been very impressed with our team as a whole by the way we have jumped right into this season. Our new freshmen and one transfer have been so diligent about learning new skills in the weight room and in the pool. It's hard juggling the start of a college school year while also participating in a Division I sport, but they have all done it effortlessly and without complaint. I have also been thrilled with the excitement and leadership that our returners have shown. They have made it their mission to help our freshmen in any way they can, as well as pump one another up in the weight room and in the pool. I'm proud to say I think we are one of the loudest teams on campus.

As a junior, I have noticed how much our team has improved since I was a freshman. The past two years we've earned a fourth-place finish at the conference meet. Although we are ecstatic about our fourth-place finishes, I know that we will all be looking to get top three this year, which I believe to be well within our reach.

Our first meet of the year is against San Diego State, a very respectable team. We swam against them twice last year and did fairly well the second time. I know that we're all setting out to make some upsets and win some races. I think it's just a matter of who wants it, and I know our girls do.

One of the coolest things about our team, and swimming in general, is that each member brings something different. We have our butterfliers, breaststrokers, etc., and even the divers add variety with their skill specific dives. Our team has so much diversity and talent, and this year's freshman class only adds to that. I have no doubt that when we bring all of our girls together, we can accomplish amazing things.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Adria Johnson

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Senior outside hitter Adria Johnson of the women's indoor volleyball team tells us how faith, relationships and volleyball have guided her college career thus far and her plans for the future:

Adria  Johnson

Q: How did you get into volleyball?

A: My best friend in middle school invited me to tryouts and I made it. From there, I started playing club volleyball and I've been playing ever since.

Q: What lead you to make the decision to finish high school early and come to Pepperdine?

A: I lived in the same town, same house and went to the same school, same church my entire life so I was ready for a change. I've also always done things differently. It wasn't planned but I had the opportunity and it just made sense. Since volleyball is a fall start it was really nice because I could settle in during the spring semester before starting volleyball in the fall.

Q: It seems as if everyone on campus knows you. How important is it to build relationships with your peers?

A: I've had this evolving list of core values and building relationships has remained number one. I love people so much. People are really important to me because I get my energy from being around fun people.

Q: How has Pepperdine influenced the fostering of these relationships? For example, are you involved in clubs, or other extracurricular activities aside from volleyball?

A: I go to UM, the ministry, which is the only thing that I've done consistently. I think the atmosphere at Pepperdine has really influenced the development of my community. Being such a small school, I get to see all of the same people every day, which is cool because then those relationships can grow. Also, the faith-based community really helps because I believe that it unifies people and brings them together.

Q: You are choosing to graduate early from Pepperdine as well. How did you make that decision?

A: It's been a really long process but I'm at peace with my decision. The struggle is that I love my team so much but I think that I am ready I believe that the Lord is pushing me in a direction that is really intentional and although I don't know that that is yet, I'm choosing to trust in Him.

Q: How are you feeling about your final season as a Wave?

A: So good! We've had a great start and have been playing really hard. This year we have a smaller group of girls but we are all really committed and looking toward the same goals. A lot of our success is based in our strong relationships with one another, which I think gives us the upper hand over other teams. The girls are the best and I love spending every day with them. I'm also looking forward to hopefully bringing home a conference win with them this year.

Q: What are your plans post-graduation?

A: I want to do The World Race, which is a ministry opportunity where you go to different countries over the course of a year, and do service as well as teach them about the Lord. After that, I'm excited to see the different ways I can use my advertising degree and what facets will be most valuable to me. I'm not completely sure what lies ahead but I'm excited to find out.

Abbey Meck, a freshman on the cross country team, has started off the season extremely well. She shares with us how her experience has been so far and what she is looking forward to the rest of this season:
Abbey  Meck

Q: How have your first few weeks at Pepperdine been?

A: They have been really good. I am really happy here! I love the school, I love my classes and I love the team, so overall it has been awesome.

Q: Was the transition into college what you expected it to be?

A: Kind of. I don't know what I was expecting, but it has been really good. It has gone by so quickly. I definitely thought it was going to be a lot harder and I thought I would miss home more than I have been, but it has been good so far.

Q: What made you decide to come to Pepperdine?

A: I visited Pepperdine when I was a sophomore in high school and I just loved the campus. I did a running camp at Pepperdine with Coach Radnoti. I fell in love with the program he has and I thought he was an amazing coach. A lot of D-I schools are very pushy with training and eating and if you are not doing it properly, you can get dropped. I like that he supports his athletes when they are injured and throughout everything. Also, the location was definitely a big selling point. I do not think I could go away from the beach.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about this year?

A: For running, I am really looking forward to getting more confident. I think that a lot of the girls are really nervous to be running at these big races, but once we race in the big races, we will develop more confidence and that will benefit us.

Q: You've done really well in your first few races. How did you feel going into them?

A: The first race was somewhat relaxed, so I was not too nervous going into it. I thought I did well. The second meet we had was bigger than anything I had ever raced in and I was not really expecting it. Racing girls who are from Arkansas and Alabama, who are fifth-year seniors, was very shocking. When I looked back at the results, we saw how many freshmen were ahead of us, which was something we all needed to see. There are so many experienced and older runners that were ahead of us, so for our age, we all did really well.

Q: How long have you been running?

A: I started running in seventh grade to keep in shape for soccer. After that, I just fell in love with the sport.

Q: What are your goals for this season?

A: Time-wise, this is the first time I have raced a 6K and I am hoping to get down to the 21's. For the team, I really want us to gain confidence and for us to understand that we are capable, and are able to compete against these other schools.

Q: What is your favorite part about being on the cross country team?

A: I like the family that I have created. Right away, I had so many friends on the team and all the girls want everyone else to do well. They all want to help each other and be a resource for one another. We are all super competitive, but we support each other and want each other to do well.

Q: Is there anything you want to do while you are in Southern California?

A: I want to go skydiving, and I have heard that you can go skydiving nearby. I also really want to go to the Catalina Islands. That is something that I can only do from here.

Patrick and Tim Wells are freshmen on the cross country team as well as competitive duathletes (running and biking) who are among the best in the world in their age group. The twins tell us about why they chose Pepperdine and what it is like being a duathlete:

Patrick  Wells Tim  Wells

Q: How has your first couple of weeks been so far at Pepperdine?

Tim: It has been going well. It's been a little challenging trying to find all of the classes, but everything else has been good. The environment is great and the team has been very welcoming.

Patrick: It has been going great. All the teachers have been very kind, and I don't think it is tough trying to find the classes. Everyone is just really kind here.

Q: What made you decide to come to Pepperdine?

Patrick: I wanted to stay in Southern California, since we are from the Burbank area. Going to Pepperdine was a really good opportunity that opened up and I decided to take it.

Tim: I wanted to go to a school that was really good academically and athletically, so that was a big reason why I decided to come here.

Q: Did you both always want to go to school together or did it just work out that way?

Tim: A little bit of both. We kind of wanted to go to school together, and it worked out that we could both go here.

Q: I have heard you are both duathletes! Tell me a little about how you both got into that.

Tim: We began just using biking for cross training and injury prevention and as something else to do besides just running. We found that we loved competing in the sport. We've gotten to go to a couple of World Championships. It has been a really fun experience and something I would like to continue in the future.

Patrick: For me it is a similar reason. We are near San Diego and there are a lot of duathlons there. Our parents brought up the idea to us because it is good to do other things besides just running and we really like to bike.

Q: You both recently competed in this year's World Championships. What was it like?

Tim: The whole experience was pretty awesome since it was my first championship. It was in Canada. It was really cool to represent the United States and race against everyone.

Patrick: It is a whole new level. You see people from around the world competing. It is pretty serious. You see some of the professionals in the races after you and it is really cool to watch.

Q: What did you place in the championship?

Tim: I placed fourth in my age group and 11th overall.

Patrick: I placed eighth in my age group.

Q: Is being a duathlete something you want to continue doing into the future?

Patrick: Definitely. I would like to start getting into triathlons. I have not had a lot of time to swim, so that is why I have stuck with duathlons. I definitely want to step into the triathlon world.

Tim: It is definitely something I want to continue for quite a while. Hopefully for the rest of my life I can keep competing in duathlons.

Q: What is the difference between training for cross country and for a duathlon?

Tim: Training for cross country is a lot more mileage because the races are 8K, so about five miles. You have to have a lot of endurance and speed. Duathlons are an endurance event too, but it is a different type of training.

Patrick: You practice different things in a duathlon. You have to practice transitions and think more about nutrition throughout the race, and get water or a power gel during the race. In cross country, you just run straight and power through.

Q: What are your goals for this year?

Tim: Move up a little higher in the standings compared to the past couple of years. We have a good group of athletes. The seniors and juniors have been doing really well. We have a younger group, which will be good for the future. The main goal would be to do well at the WCC Championships. Specifically, place in the top half of the table.

Patrick: The goal is to build the team and keep improving upon each race and to stay positive throughout the season.